Rob was born in 1970 in Toronto, Ontario. In 1992, he graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. A diverse and prolific artist, Rob paints in a variety of mediums and styles. Some of his work includes landscapes and subjects such as abandoned houses and vehicles done in oil or acrylic paints, as well as a series featuring Inuit traditional country food in mixed media. His “Yardbird” series portrays realistic depictions of the birds in his backyard with abstracted backgrounds in acrylic paint. He also creates wild, cartoonish canvases with bright, bold acrylic colours and an emphasis on black line, often featuring “Bucketfish,” a cartoon character he created while at college.
© Dennis Minty
Rob Saley painting on the tundra
Traveling with his paintbox and masonite panels, Rob continues the tradition of painting en plein air, inspired by the excitement of travel and experiencing new places and cultures. These on-site oil sketches capture the true colours, feelings, and history of a time and place, acting as a “memory trigger” when looking through photographs. By spending anywhere from one to three hours focused on a scene, absorbing the details, watching the light move and the sun cross the sky, an artist develops a better understanding and connection with the landscape. This connection helps one to better understand the photographs taken. From both the painting sketch and subsequent photos, Rob then creates larger canvases in his studio, at home in the Pretty River Valley of Ontario, Canada.
A founding member of the acclaimed Canadian artist collective Drawnonward, Rob Saley has drawn his inspiration from the far reaches of Canada and abroad for the last three decades. In 2006, Drawnonward and the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) started the first Inuit Art Camp in that region of Nunavut. Rob has been an instructor at all of the annual KIA Art Camps since it began. In 2013, he became a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.